Residents prefer road stripe over sidewalksThe Red Wing City Council might consider alternatives to sidewalks in the Hallquist and Eunice avenues area after hearing from residents at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
The Red Wing City Council might consider alternatives to sidewalks in the Hallquist and Eunice avenues area after hearing from residents at a neighborhood meeting Tuesday.
About 35 people braved the icy, slushy weather to gather in Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical’s foyer and share their opinions, concerns and ideas on the project.
“The goal is to hear from everyone,” said Mayor Dennis Egan, who organized the meeting.
Many residents there coalesced around the idea of a painted stripe in the road marking a pedestrian and bicycling area in place of a sidewalk.
In February, the council unanimously approved advertising for bids for sidewalks on Hallquist and Eunice, and those bids are out right now, Engineering Director Ron Rosenthal said. Council likely will vote on the bids at the March 26 meeting.
In December, the council had decided the sidewalk project should move forward after being delayed for years. Members cited issues including safety concerns and connectivity as justification.
But many area residents have spoken out against the project.
“We appreciate the reasons the council has given us for going forward on this project,” but many people don’t agree with them, Hallquist Avenue resident Cory Doden said at the February council meeting.
“I don’t feel there’s a safety issue,” Rose Burke, who lives on Eunice Avenue, said at Tuesday’s meeting. She brought several charts and graphs to prove her point.
But she said the stripe could be a compromise to address both groups’ concerns.
Other residents said the area could be a test run for the stripe.
Richard Falc, who lives on Hallquist Avenue, said he wants to maintain the rural environment of the area and avoid uprooting mature trees.
Trees were a major concern for many residents in the area. The city’s plan shows about 34 trees in the sidewalks’ path likely would need to be cut down.
Other residents were concerned about funding, an issue some council members had raised as well in February.
Funding for the about $292,000 project currently is planned to be a mix of assessments to property owners, capital improvement plan general funds, general obligation bonds and unused 2011 sidewalk funds.
When the project was ordered in a few years ago assessments started, which can cause issues when people try to sell their homes.
A few residents at the meeting spoke in favor of the project, and Egan and Council member Lisa Bayley said they’ve heard from other supporters.
Egan said because of the emails and calls he has received on both sides and the petition against the project that was signed, he thought a neighborhood meeting would help residents air concerns and share ideas. Six council members, the mayor and some city staff were there.
The council can vote down — or mayor can veto — the bids that are set to come before members later this month. But at least six of seven council members must vote to remove the project from the Capital Improvement Plan if they want to go that route.
“My concern still is safety,” Bayley said. “I’m open to listening to those alternatives.”